"Beware the wrath of a patient person."
SOFTWARE REVIEW: "GENEVA" MULTI-TASKING SYSTEM BY GRIBNIF
by Richard Karsmakers
This might very well be one of the very last reviews of "Geneva"
found anywhere. As it happens, I got a deal with Gribnif in the
acquisition of the program that made it possible only for me to
acquire it together with "NeoDesk" version 4. As the latter
program only got shipped by the end of August, everything took
its time. Let me tell you right away that it was well worth the
wait. I chucked "MultiTOS" off my boot partition and out of the
window the very same instant, and have never regretted it.
All of you should know that "Geneva" is, much in the vein of
"MultiTOS" and German competitor "Mag!X", a piece of software
that allows multi-tasking to take place on your computer. This
means you can have several programs running at the same time,
basically limited only by the amount of memory you've got
installed. This is quite unlike "Omen" and "SMS2", which are
multi-tasking systems that are not compatible with TOS and
therefore distinctly less appealing to many Atari users I guess.
"Geneva" does not offer a desktop, i.e. if you use "Geneva" on
its own you will either have to be satisfied with its fairly
basic file functions (including a fairly extensive alternative
file selector) or use another desktop such as "NeoDesk"
(preferably version 4). I suppose "Teradesk", "Gemini" and
"KaosDesk" would work, too, but this is just personal conjecture
and might not be the case at all.
"Geneva" basically replaces the AES of your computer TOS. As far
as I understand, the only thing it still uses from the original
TOS is the GEMDOS part, where I/O is concerned. "Geneva"
eliminates the six-accessory limit and also allows them to be
loaded and unloaded whenever you want. The window limit has been
increased to 256 and the looks of all dialogs, alert boxes and
windows have been modernized/overhauled and can be configured by
the user, too (even window border size and all fonts can be
changed, principally allowing for all sizes to be halved and
practical screen resolution to be doubled in both directions this
way). "Geneva" also adds nice extras such as "tear-off menus"
(you can tear off each pull-down and locate it elsewhere on the
screen), an extended file selector, hyper-linked help screens
everywhere (of course) and a special means to run old .TOS
programs in a window.
"Geneva" operations circulate around the task manager. This is
an accessory that, together with "Geneva" itself allows you to
change the parameters of programs and put them to sleep, remove
them from memory, etc. Program parameters include "put to sleep
all other programs" (useful for programs that were not written to
multi-task at all, like "GfA Basic"), "switch of keyboard
equivalents" ("Geneva" will try to assign keyboard equivalents to
dialog boxes and alerts, but if programs do this themselves
already you will want this turned off), "limit memory use" (for
programs, like "1st Word Plus", that take all memory if they get
the chance) and various switches that will increase compatibility
with programs that assume things (like the number of window
handles or screen size) that should never really have been
assumed certain in the first place.
"Geneva" itself can be configured, too. By default, for example,
it will have "pull-down menus" instead of "drop-down menus",
which you can change back if you want. You can switch off "tear
off menus", you can cause alert boxes to appear where the mouse
is, you can switch grow/shrink boxes on/off and you can even set
the window gadget repeat delay.
I have worked with "Geneva" continuously since I got in (late
August), with the exception when I have to access .TTP or .TOS
programs because the .TOS program handler doesn't quite work on
the Falcon (not at all, actually - it bombs). "Geneva" as such is
extremely stable and I have not come across any programs that I
can't get to run (unless you count demos and fancy stuff like
The manual is extensive and well-written, and includes complete
documentation of new extended OS calls and all that jazz,
probably interesting to programmers who want to do some coding of
"Geneva"-specific programs. There's even "beginner's tips"
section that will get you working on "Geneva" in a comfortable
fashion at start.
Like "NeoDesk" version 4, I would not want to live without
"Geneva" any more. Apart from the fact that it allows multi-
tasking, which I don't use all the time anyway, it also gets rid
of AES limitations and unaesthetic things, as well as that six-
accessory limit (which I really hated!). Everything looks a lot
better, too, with 3D look and rounded buttons and everything
Atari should have put in TOS right away.
Users of other computer systems might want to make snide remarks
about your Atari because the user interface isn't up to the best
and it can't do multi-tasking, but with "Geneva" and "NeoDesk"
version 4 you can go to sleep with the certain knowledge that
there are no computer systems (including the Apple Mac series,
I'd wager) that come close.
Although I am not familiar with "Mag!X", "Geneva" is perfect if
you ask me (except for the .TOS program manager bug).
o Multi-tasking is now finally a viable option. Throw away
"MultiTOS" and dance on its putrid remains! I have no
experience with "Mag!X", but most certainly this German
program is the only contender for "Geneva" supremacy, what
with other multi-tasking systems (such as "Omen" and "SMS2")
not being TOS-compatible.
o Highly compatible. I know of only preciously few programs
that won't work because of "Geneva". Using the many user-
definable flags, ill-behaved programs can be made to act
o Even "Mutil" will allow for disks to be checked, which was
normally impossible on TOS versions higher than 1.02 due to
the way "Mutil" determines which drives are connected (by
checking the DESKTOP.INF file in RAM memory to see which
icons have been installed, of which the memory address has
changed since that TOS version). I don't know if this was
intended, but it is certainly a very nice thing!
o It appears to have fixed the GEM crash bug (that sometimes
manifested itself in "1st Word Plus" - pressing [BACKSPACE]
could trigger character repetition and crash).
o The TOS manager doesn't work on the Falcon. Dan knows about
this and will address the problem in the next update. The
current update is .003 (December 31st 1993).
o If you have more than 10 accessories installed, the "tear-
off" menu will only display the first 10. A vertical window
slider would have been nice in this exceptional case.
o If you play the shareware game "Triple Yahoo" you will get
decidedly less "yahoos". This is no funny remark - it's
proven by extended playing sessions indeed.
Suggestions for improvement:
o The "remind" option in "Mouse Tricks" would, I guess, be
easy to implement (making sure GEM programs realise the
mouse button is released when sometimes they think it's
still pressed). Especially with multi-tasking Operating
Systems like "Geneva", things tend to slow down a bit at
least and these unwanted side effects merely increase.
o It would be nice if the GEM.CNF file could have a command
like "SLEEP ALL ABOVE", causing all accessories and programs
above its occurrence to be loaded "asleep" before running
that last program (usually the shell). This way that last
program will be faster. Whenever you select accessories,
even when they're asleep, they immediately wake up.
"Geneva" can be obtained from Gribnif software.
P.O. Box 779
Northampton, MA 01061-0779
United States of America
Tel. (413) 247-5620
Fax. (413) 247-5622
I'd like to thank Dan Wilga for arranging a bit of a discount at
my purchase of the "NeoDesk" version 4 upgrade together with
"Geneva". I think these have been the finest purchases I've made
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.